September is upon us and the Chicago Blackhawks will begin their third title defense of the decade in just more than a month. The team kicks off training camp at Compton Family Ice Arena on the campus of Notre Dame in just a couple of weeks, putting us a step closer to the end of a whirlwind offseason. Over the next couple of weeks, Blackhawk Up will project the stats of each player on the roster, using their career averages and numbers from a year ago to analyze whether that player’s stats will be over or under the projected total.
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Over/Under continues with a look at one of the grittiest players on Chicago Blackhawks’ roster, fan favorite Andrew Shaw. His numbers were down substantially from last season as Shaw played the center position, which many believe is not his natural spot. Shaw was much more effective when he played along the wing and was the best player on the ice at times for the Blackhawks during the postseason. Shaw lit the lamp five times and added seven assists en route to his second Stanley Cup.
2014-15 Projected Over/Under: 21 goals, 24 assists
2014-15 Actual Stats: 15 goals, 11 assists
Shaw failed to live up to his offensive expectations last season, but it may have been more of a regression back to the mean. Shaw scored 20 times and tallied 19 assists during the 2013-14 season on essentially the same number of shots he took in the 2014-15 season. Puck luck may have had something to do with Shaw’s decrease in scoring, but Shaw also isn’t a player who will put the puck in the net regularly. His statistical decrease shouldn’t come as a surprise, but also shouldn’t be deemed as a problem.
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2015-16 Projected Over/Under: 16 goals, 12 assists
Shaw’s role isn’t to get pucks going toward the net or be a facilitator for his line mates. It’s certainly nice when he does that, but Shaw is a natural agitator — an effort and grit player who loves to defy the odds against greater opponents. Some of the plays he made that stood out in the playoffs weren’t gorgeous goals or fancy assists;they were good checks along the boards, or a great effort to carry a puck into the zone, or an incredible will to cancel out an icing.
Where Shaw does prove to be effective offensively is directly in the goaltender’s kitchen. Goals like this are when Shaw is at his best, but it takes possession in the zone for it to occur and can sometimes lead to a beating. However, for only 5-foot-11, 179 pounds, Shaw sure can be a presence in front of the crease.
Believe it or not, the Blackhawks are actually pretty deep along the wings, which means Shaw’s role may be reduced to more of a third- or fourth-line winger on a regular basis. Ryan Garbutt also possesses a similar skill set to Shaw, and it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Joel Quenneville handles them. Of course, Quenneville has relied on Shaw before, which gives him the upper hand.
Shaw should bring more grit and agitation if he can stick to playing wing full time (something only Quenneville can decide). He should flirt with a 30-point season, but expecting him to surpass 20 goals may be too lofty.
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